Star tailback Arian Foster, a rising senior, appears to be the driving force behind the action.
Rising sophomore Eric Berry said Foster recently visited the freshman dorm and "told us, ‘These are the set rules. We're going to have a set curfew. This is what will happen if you're caught out.' He just basically set the guidelines for the team, and we've done pretty good at that."
Almost every off-field incident involving a Vol occurred in the wee hours of the morning. The curfew specifically addresses that situation.
"It's 11 o'clock seven days a week," Berry said. "Weekends, too."
The action may have been drastic but the reaction was not.
"The team responded well," Berry said. "Getting in trouble eight weeks in a row, you basically have no choice but to respond well to that. We were cool with it."
Head coach Phillip Fulmer confirmed today that "The seniors stepped up and mandated a curfew for the entire team that's still in place." Although he applauded the action, the head man noted that it was "late in coming."
Foster, who rushed for 1,193 yards last fall and looms as a key team leader for 2008, seems to be the player most determined to curtail the off-field problems.
"I think he's the ringleader and the spokesman," Berry said, "but I think it was an agreement among the seniors."
The rash of off-field incidents brought the football program a lot of negative publicity and a lot of intense scrutiny from the national media. The curfew should at least provide damage control, if not a long-term solution.
"That was a very big statement by the team," Berry said. "We needed some kind of wake-up call because things was getting out of control. Our team isn't bad but, you know, sometimes you get an inch and you want to take a mile.
"We'll be all right."
Perhaps the team will be more than all right. Early indications suggest the curfew has brought the Vols closer together.
"It did, actually," Berry said. "Now we've started doing more team functions. A lot of the older players are having cookouts at their house. We go over to eat with them, get to know each other a little better.
"I think that's going to help us this season."